Featured New Release Of The Week: Beyond The Moonlit Sea by Julianne MacLean

This week we’re looking at a book that is a master class in how to take a tale that could veer into the prosaic and at least somewhat uninteresting and elevate it into a captivating and charming tale simply by making smart decisions in exactly how to tell exactly the same story. This week we’re looking at Beyond The Moonlit Sea by Julianne Maclean.

Interesting Case of Storytelling Excellence. This is one of those books where had the author chosen to tell this very same story in a more typical fashion, with just a single narrator that we follow over several decades of her life, it wouldn’t have been near as engaging or near as engrossing as the tale becomes by telling it the way she instead chose to tell it. As a singular narrative, the story is a solid tale of a woman struggling to find herself in her twenties and thirties, both as she finishes college and a bit later in the aftermath of a tragedy, who then has to deal with the repercussions of these events throughout her life. With the particular perspectives that MacLean adds – which do add extra length to the text that wouldn’t be present without them – we get a much more fleshed out tale that actually adds extra depth both to certain characters and to the overall story, and thus the extra length is absolutely warranted in this case. Ultimately a satisfying tale in a vein somewhat reminiscent of the great Robin Williams movie Bicentennial Man, without its length in years. 🙂 Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Beach Heart by Grace Greene

This week we’re looking at a remarkable book about healing and finding your way, even at your very lowest point. This week we’re looking at Beach Heart by Grace Greene.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

The Chair Comes Too! Yes, the title of this review is a reference to a minor yet great element of this particular tale, one that I can relate to a great deal. In this case, the chair in question is where our lead was sitting when she found out some momentous news, at a point where she was at her lowest. In my own case, my grandmother had a bench on her front porch for years that she or I would sit on while we talked as she smoked her cigarettes – and that very bench now sits in my house. For both of us, these furniture pieces come to serve as a reminder of both devastation and healing, of fond memories and the moments they were ripped away – but ultimately, of a strength neither of us knew at the time that we possessed. And yes, this book also serves as a great introduction to Greene’s style for those who have never read her books before as well as a familiar voice telling a new story with some wrinkles we don’t always see even from Greene herself. Truly an outstanding book, one great to read on a beach somewhere if you get a chance – or anywhere else if you don’t. Very much recommened.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Crazy To Leave You by Marilyn Simon Rothstein

This week we’re looking at a strong book about (re)discovering yourself in mid-life. This week we’re looking at Crazy To Leave You by Marilyn Simon Rothstein.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Solid Tale Of Discovering Yourself In Mid-Life. There is an overarching theme through many of the lower-starred reviews (at least as I read Goodreads early on release day, just after finishing the book myself) that they “didn’t know where this tale was going”. To me… *this is the very point of the book*. Our main character suddenly finds herself directionless after what she thought she had in the bag collapses around her, and we get to watch as she picks up the shattered pieces and rediscovers herself – and discovers her voice for possibly the very first time – in the aftermath. In this, Rothstein does a truly tremendous job of having a solid combination of support and antagonism – often in the same supporting characters. Thus showing that *everyone* is flawed to some degree, but also that *everyone* is good to some degree as well. The banter is great, the emphasis on her time at summer camp as a teen is excellent nostalgia reminiscent of Wet Hot American Summer, the slow burn romance is well executed, and even the very serious issues discussed – workforce discrimination (though never truly fleshed out there), diet “culture”, overbearing but well intentioned parents, etc – are done well, with just enough weight to give substance without becoming truly overbearing. Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: When We Let Go by Rochelle B Weinstein

This week we’re looking at a staggering tale of loss and recovery. This week we’re looking at When We Let Go by Rochelle B Weinstein.

Emotional Tale Of Loss And Recovery. This is one of those tales where you know up front that it is dark… and then it gets darker. And darker. And darker. With just enough humor to lighten things up a bit… and then a gut-punch of a form that may be used a bit often (as another reviewer claimed), but which works within the tale being told here. Similarly, as this is ultimately a tale of *recovery* from such devastation, one element of the epilogue that I’ve panned as unnecessary and even detracting from other books in other reviews actually works in this particular tale. And it works *specifically because* of the tale told up to that point. Truly an excellent work, and very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: No More Lies by Kerry Lonsdale

This week we’re looking at a truly strong series continuation that explains several things from the first book from new perspectives while also building anticipation for the concluding book of the trilogy to a fever pitch. This week we’re looking at No More Lies by Kerry Lonsdale.

Excellent Book 2. This is book 2 of Kerry Lonsdale’s newest trilogy, and while the timelines of both Book 1 (No More Words) and Book 2 overlap – they *do* deal with siblings, at their core – you really do need to read Words first to understand particularly later developments in this book. But this book also explains how certain situations in Words came to be as well – and it is this truly well layered storytelling that is arguably the strongest feature of both this book and this series so far. Yet again, by the end of the tale you’re going to want the next one… which is a problem when you’re reading an ARC nearly 6 months before publication when the author has barely *started writing* said next book. 😀 Truly a well told story both here individually and within the series, and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on No More Secrets, Book 3 of this series, as soon as I can. Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Disappeared by Bonnar Spring

This week we’re looking at an atmospheric and visceral mystery that turns into an edge-of-your-seat survival thriller. This week we’re looking at Disappeared by Bonnar Spring.

Atmospheric Mystery Turns Nail Biting Thriller. This is one of those visceral, atmospheric type tales where you truly feel immersed in the (for most readers) exotic locale. Spring does a tremendous job of showing the breadth of Morocco, from its urban and more modern (ish) areas to its much more remote and tribal areas, from its dazzling seascapes to the bleak Saharan Desert. Much of the tale is a mystery of a woman trying to find her sister, who she arrived in-country with but has now disappeared. Later revelations turn the tale into a desperate attempt to survive and to flee the country, and this is where the book begins to take on much more of its thriller vibe (though there was at least some tinge of foreshadowing of this during the more mystery-oriented section of the tale). Truly a remarkable work, and very much recommended.

Featured Release Of The Week: Everything Must Go by Camille Pagan

For this week’s Featured New Release, we’re looking at a solid examination of childlessness, divorce, and Alzheimer’s as experienced in the life of a woman in her thirties. This week, we’re looking at Everything Must Go by Camille Pagan.

Solid Examination Of Childlessness And Alzheimer’s. This book continues Pagan’s trend of writing books about real-world issues women in their 30s ish encounter and doing so in a thoughtful and poignant manner that allows people to more fully explore their own thoughts and feelings on the matters at hand even while telling its own unique story. In this particular book, Pagan brings out two issues that I’ve seen up close and personal in my own (late 30s male) life – childlessness and Alzheimer’s. While there are some (such as my wife and I) who start out childless (no kids, want them) and later become childfree (no kids, don’t want any) and there is considerable debate within the childless and childfree communities (yes, they are distinct), this tale accurately explores a woman realizing that becoming a mother is truly important to her and what she must do to ensure that. Its explorations of Alzheimer’s and the familial relationships it both strains and enhances also ring true to what I observed from my own mother – then in her late 30s/ early 40s – when she, along with her over half a dozen siblings, dealt with her own father developing the disease. I’ve even known friends and family to divorce as seemingly seamless as happens here, particularly before kids are involved. So ultimately, I see the plausibility in virtually everything Pagan did here, and the story thus became, for me, likely more of the thoughtful examination she meant for it to be rather than getting hung up on “I don’t think [this thing or that thing] is realistic enough” as so many of the other reviewers (on Goodreads as of December 29, nearly 4 months before publication) have done. While not quite as powerful or funny as Pagan’s previous books (which you should absolutely read as well), this one still does its thing quite well indeed, and is thus very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Only A Country Doctor Can Save This City Rose by Sophia Quinn

This week we’re looking at a solid third entrant into what will hopefully be a seven book series that breathes new possibility that this could well happen. This week we’re looking at Only A Country Doctor Can Save This City Rose by Sophia Quinn.

Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

Solid Entry That Breathes New Life Into Series. Coming out of Book 2 of this series (Gucci Girls Don’t Date Cowboys), we knew we were coming directly into Rose’s tale (though it is a bit spoilery to note *how* we knew). What was less clear at that time was just how the series would continue beyond that, as we had now dealt with the two primary sisters from the beginning of the series and had a semi-obvious plant for a male lead for a third book, but not too much obvious beyond that. With this entry, we get a solid romance that can stand mostly on its own (though seriously, read Books 1 (Pretend To Be My Cowboy) and 2 first) – but we also get a solid sense of how this series can continue at least through the next main subset of the O’Sullivan Sisters, with one obvious tale coming out of this one and at least a couple of possibilities for the male lead in the book beyond that one, dealing with the final sister of this subset (supposedly, I have no inside information here :D). As this tale is indicative of the generally strong, Hallmarkie type small town romance genre that this series very much plays into, this is a very good thing that we’re apparently going to get at least two more books into it, and this reader in particular is still hoping that we eventually get all seven. Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Lying Club by Annie Ward

This week we’re looking at a book that has a slow start and a LOT of moving parts that ultimately all ties together into a satisfyingly suspenseful tale. This week we’re looking at The Lying Club by Annie Ward.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Slow Start Yet Overall Satisfying. This is one of those books that starts a bit slow and has a LOT of moving parts and thus can be a touch difficult to keep track of at times, even for those of us who like this type of setup. One where there is little action and it seems a touch pointless at times… until the back parts of the book where the action truly finally picks up steam and gets fairly suspenseful. And yet, by the end all is tied up neatly – perhaps a bit too neatly, and the epilogue is perhaps unneeded as well. Ultimately a strong book that arguably tries to do a bit too much – but still largely succeeds in telling its tale its way. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social and buy links.
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Featured New Release Of The Week: The Finalist by Joan Long

This week we’re looking at a great bit of escapist fiction set on a tropical island and written by a debut author. This week we’re looking at The Finalist by Joan Long.

Solid Debut. This is one of those books where the premise draws you in, and the author begins executing with the very first page. Solid mystery/ action tale of murders happening on a supposedly secure remote tropical island, this one does a bit of setup before the murders start, but once they do the action picks up reasonably well and stays reasonably well paced through the end. Ultimately one where you can see the promise of this author’s ability, while also still showing some things that need some improvement generally. Still, this reader for one is looking forward to Long’s next book. Very much recommended.